Murder with Peacocks (Meg Langslow Series #1)

Murder with Peacocks (Meg Langslow Series #1)

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by Donna Andrews
     
 

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Three Weddings...And a Murder

So far Meg Langslow's summer is not going swimmingly. Down in her small Virginia hometown, she's maid of honor at the nuptials of three loved ones--each of whom has dumped the planning in her capable hands. One bride is set on including a Native American herbal purification ceremony, while another wants live peacocks on the lawn.

Overview

Three Weddings...And a Murder

So far Meg Langslow's summer is not going swimmingly. Down in her small Virginia hometown, she's maid of honor at the nuptials of three loved ones--each of whom has dumped the planning in her capable hands. One bride is set on including a Native American herbal purification ceremony, while another wants live peacocks on the lawn. Only help from the town's drop-dead gorgeous hunk, disappointingly rumored to be gay, keeps Meg afloat in a sea of dotty relatives and outrageous neighbors.

And, in whirl of summer parties and picnics, Southern hospitality is strained to the limit by an offensive newcomer who hints at skeletons in the guests' closets. But it seems this lady has offended one too many when she's found dead in suspicious circumstances, followed by a string of accidents--some fatal. Soon, level-headed Meg's to-do list extends from flower arrangements and bridal registries to catching a killer--before the next catered event is her own funeral...

Editorial Reviews

Toby Bromberg
Witty, romantic, and suspenseful, Murder with Peacocks is a dream of a book. The story has a little something for everyone and fans of “true love” will be especially pleased.
Romantic Times
Library Journal
Meg Lanslow, maid of honor for three impending weddings, returns to her Virginia small-town home for the summer in order to arrange the details. Amidst the near disasters, truculent brides-to-be, screwball relatives, and minutiae-filled days, someone kills the rudely annoying sister of her mother's fiance. Meg's divorced but amicable father, an insatiable busybody and doctor, begins investigating--with assistance from Meg. Loquacious dialog, persistent humor, and interrupted romance brand the 1997 winner of the publisher's "Malice Domestic" contest. A fun, breezy read.
Kirkus Reviews
Lucky Meg Langslow. Hardly any decorative blacksmiths get invited to be maid of honor to three brides in three weeks. As Meg knocks herself out to satisfy the whims of her business partner Eileen Donleavy (who wants all 600 guests in Renaissance attire), her brother Rob's fiancé Samantha Brewster (who thinks some peacocks might be one of those little touches that would make her wedding special), and her mother Margaret Langslow (who, long divorced from Meg's cheerfully uncomplaining father, a retired physician whose hobby is poisonous plants, now plans to marry a deeply boring widower), newcomer Andrews shows why everybody depends on Meg: she's the only family member who's not out of her mind. Businesslike Meg can enlist her gossipy mother to save the professional reputation of the ailing dressmaker's handsome son, rescue Samantha's rented peafowl from the kitten she's brought home from the tippling calligrapher's, fend off the advances of a pair of loathsome suitors, and deal betweentimes with the odd murder or two (the widower's meddlesome sister-in-law, a great choice for starters), because she's channeled the Langslow tendency to mania into her deadpan prose, whose unflappable cadences ("The shower was going fine until Samantha vomited into the onion dip") and cutaways from farcical tableaux suggest half Jane Austen, half battery acid.

From the Publisher

“Andrews's debut provides plenty of laughs...hilarity and comic panache.” —Publishers Weekly

“Loquacious dialogue, persistent humor and interrupted romance..A fun, breezy read.” —Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429901277
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
02/07/2006
Series:
Meg Langslow Series , #1
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
43,207
File size:
373 KB

Read an Excerpt



Murder With Peacocks

Tuesday, May 24
I HAD BECOME SO USED TO HYSTERICAL DAWN PHONE CALLS THAT I only muttered one halfhearted oath before answering.
"Peacocks," a voice said.
"I beg your pardon, you must have the wrong number," I mumbled. I opened one eye to peer at the clock: it was 6:00 A.M.
"Oh, don't be silly, Meg," the voice continued. Ah, I recognized it now. Samantha, my brother, Rob's, fiancee. "I just called to tell you that we need some peacocks."
"What for?"
"For the wedding, of course." Of course. As far as Samantha was concerned, the entire universe revolved around her upcoming wedding, and as maid of honor, I was expected to share her obsession.
"I see," I said, although actually I didn't. I suppressed a shudder at the thought of peacocks, roasted with the feathers still on, gracing the buffet table. Surely that wasn't what she had in mind, was it? "What are we going to do with them at the wedding?"
"We're not going to do anything with them," Samantha said, impatiently. "They'll just be there, adding grace and elegance to the occasion. Don't you remember the weekend before last when we all had dinner with your father? And he was saying what a pity it was that nothing much would be blooming in the yard in August, so there wouldn't be much color? Well, I just saw a photo in a magazine that had peacocks in it, and they were just about the most darling things you ever saw ..."
I let her rattle on while I fumbled over the contents of my bedside table, found my notebook-that-tells-me-when-to-breathe, flipped to the appropriate page, and wrote "Peacocks" in the clear, firm printing I use when I am not in a very good mood.
"Were you thinking of buying or renting them?" I asked, interrupting Samantha's oration on the charms of peacocks.
"Well--rent if we can. I'm sure Father would be perfectly happy to buy them if necessary, but I'm not sure what we would do with them in the long run." I noted "Rent/buy if necessary" after "Peacocks."
"Right. Peacocks. I'll see what I can turn up."
"Wonderful. Oh, Meg, you're just so wonderful at all this!"
I let her gush for a few more minutes. I wondered, not for the first time, if I should feel sorry for Rob or if he was actually looking forward to listening to her for the rest of his life. And did Rob, who shared my penchant for late hours, realize how much of a morning person Samantha was? Eventually, I managed to cut short her monologue and sign off. I was awake; I might as well get to work.
Muttering "Peacocks!" under my breath, I stumbled through a quick shower, grabbed some coffee, and went into my studio. I flung open all the windows and gazed fondly at my unlit forge and my ironworking tools. My spirits rose.
For about ten seconds. Then the phone rang again.
"What do you think of blue, dear?" my mother asked.
"Good morning, Mother. What do you mean, blue?"
"The color blue, dear."
"The color blue," I repeated, unenlightened. I am not at my best before noon.
"Yes, dear," Mother said, with a touch of impatience.
"What do I think of it?" I asked, baffled. "I think it's a lovely color. The majority of Americans name blue when asked their favorite color. In Asian cultures--"
"For the living room, dear."
"Oh. You're getting something blue for the living room?"
"I'm redoing it, dear. For the wedding, remember? In blue. Or green. But I was really leaning to blue. I was wondering what you thought."
What I thought? Truthfully? I thought my mother's idea of redoing the living room for the wedding had been a temporary aberration arising from too much sherry after dinner at an uncle's house. And incidentally, the wedding in question wasnot Rob's and Samantha's but her own. After the world's most amiable divorce and five years of so-called single life during which my father happily continued to do all her yard work and run errands for her, my mother had decided to marry a recently widowed neighbor. And I had also agreed to be Mother's maid of honor. Which, knowing my mother, meant I had more or less agreed to do every lick of work associated with the occasion. Under her exacting supervision, of course.
"What sort of blue?" I asked, buying time. The living room was done entirely in earth tones. Redoing it in blue would involve new drapes, new upholstery, new carpet, new everything. Oh, well, Dad could afford it, I suppose. Only Dad wouldn't be paying, I reminded myself. What's-his-name would. Mother's fiancé. Jake. I had no idea how well or badly off Jake was. Well, presumably Mother did.
"I hadn't decided, dear. I thought you might have some ideas."
"Oh. I tell you what," I said, improvising. "I'll ask Eileen. She's the one with the real eye for color. I'll ask her, and we'll get some color swatches and we'll talk about it when I come down."
"That will be splendid, Meg dear. Well, I'll let you get back to your work now. See you in a few days."
I added "Blue" to my list of things to do. I actually managed to put down my coffee and pick up my hammer before the phone rang a third time.
"Oh, Meg, he's impossible. This is just not going to work."
The voice belonged to my best friend and business partner, Eileen. She with the eye for colors. The he in question was Steven, since New Year's Eve her fiancé, at least during the intervals between premarital spats. At the risk of repeating myself, I should add that I was, of course, also Eileen's maid of honor.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"He doesn't want to include the Native American herbal purification ceremony in the wedding."
"Well," I said, after a pause, "perhaps he feels a little self conscious about it. Since neither of you is actually Native American."
"That's silly. It's a lovely tradition and makes such an important statement about our commitment to the environment."
I sighed.
"I'll talk to him," I said. "Just one thing ... Eileen, what kind of herbs are we talking about here? I mean, we're not talking anything illegal, are we?"
"Oh, Meg." Eileen laughed. "Really! I have to go, my clay's ready." She hung up, still laughing merrily. I added "Call Steven re herbs" to my list.
I looked around the studio. My tools were there, ready and waiting for me to dive into the ironwork that is both my passion and my livelihood. I knew I really ought to get some work done today. In a few days, I would be back in my hometown for what I was sure would be a summer from hell. But I was already having a hard time concentrating on work. Maybe it was time to throw in the towel and head down to Yorktown.
The phone rang again. I glared at it, willing it to shut up. It ignored me and kept on ringing. I sighed, and picked it up.
Eileen again.
"Oh, Meg, before you go down to Yorktown, could you--"
"I won't have time to do anything else before I go down to Yorktown; I'm going down there tomorrow."
"Wonderful! Why don't you stop by on your way? We have some things to tell you."
On my way. Yorktown, where my parents and Eileen's father lived and where all the weddings were taking place, was three hours south of Washington, on the coast. Steven's farm, where Eileen was now living, was three hours west, in the mountains. I was opening my mouth to ask if she had any idea how inconvenient stopping by was when I suddenly realized: if I went to Steven and Eileen's, I could force them to make decisions, extract lists and signatures. I would have them in my clutches. This could be useful.
"I'll be there for supper tomorrow."
I spent the day putting my life on hold and turning over my studio to the struggling sculptor who'd sublet it for the summer. I went to bed feeling virtuous. I intended to spend the next several days really getting things done for the weddings.
Copyright © 1999 by Donna Andrews.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Andrews's debut provides plenty of laughs...hilarity and comic panache." —Publishers Weekly

"Loquacious dialogue, persistent humor and interrupted romance..A fun, breezy read."

Library Journal

Meet the Author

Donna Andrews is the author of the Meg Langslow mysteries, including Stork Raving Mad and Swan for the Money. She has won the Agatha, Anthony, and Barry awards, a Romantic Times award for best first novel, and two Lefty and two Toby Bromberg Awards for funniest mystery. When not writing fiction, Andrews is a self-confessed nerd, rarely found away from her computer, unless she's messing in the garden. She lives in Reston, Virginia.

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Murder with Peacocks (Meg Langslow Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 86 reviews.
SFL More than 1 year ago
Loved the characters and the author's way of writing. A very pleasant read from cover to cover. My only complaint is that the second in the series is not available for Nook. In fact I think the next available book in the series for Nook is about book 8 or 10. So disappointing to get started in a series only to find you either have to wait until they come out on Nook, which should have been established already, or read them in paperback version. This defeats the purpose of having a Nook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read the first six Meg Langslow novels so far. Excellent. Now I am on a reading binge throughthe rest if them. All women authors apparently must be compared to the Evanovitch Standard. Sorry, Stephanie Plum is a klutzy flake who loses handcuffs and misplaces bullets - repeatedly - and never learns. She survives because her mystery man, the bounty hunter answer to James Bond x Daddy Warbucks, has trouble keeping his eyes, hands, and other body parts off her. Meg Langslow is a smart, capable, foxy lady who holds her own as a protagonist. She brings fun and excitement to the woman detective genre. Maybe it is time for a new standard. Ladies, it may be nice to think about being 38-24-38; some of us male chavinist porkers have our own gender specific version of the dream But PLEASE think about protagonists whose IQs are equal to the sum of those measurements, like Meg, Nicki Heat, V.I. Warshawski, et alia; not their average.
BNreader56SC More than 1 year ago
First time I have read any of her books. I really enjoyed it. There is a cast of quirky characters that keep the humor flowing. This light reading and pure fun and escapism. Enjoy
jmoon74 More than 1 year ago
Really liked the story. Meg definatley has her hands full with her relatives and her friends. I can honestly say I did not want to put this book down.
melouria More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the dysfunctional and quirky characters and once the accidents and bodies began dropping the dark comedy was appreciated as well. I plan on reading more from this author.
Artistic_Fish More than 1 year ago
Gave me a whole new appreciation for peacocks! LOL Great characters, made me want to read the next one in the series immediately! Funny and intriguing page after page!
ElizabethPA More than 1 year ago
I enjoy reading this kind of book when I am falling asleep at night. It is fun and quirky. The whole book was inviting and appealing but it held together as a story and I never lost interest in the outcome.
JulieOhio More than 1 year ago
The quirky characters and odd-ball antics were just fabulous and made me laugh out loud many times. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
cjmaine More than 1 year ago
Love all her books, they are fun and keep you guessing till the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Favorite book of all time! Perfect plot!
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
This murder series is set on the coast of Virginia, and follows the cozy mystery format. The series centers on Meg Langslow, a blacksmith artist, who visits her family hometown for the summer to plan and coordinate three weddings. The whole town seems to be related to Meg's family and the various characters provide much comic release. Meg's father is a retired doctor who loves gardening and his ex-wife. Meg's mother prepares for her wedding to a recent widower, and this will be the final of the three summer weddings. Not to spoil the story, the weddings do not go smoothly. After just reading the latest Elizabeth George, this novel provided laughter and very speedy reading, but no character vividly remains etched in my memory.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Holy crap I wish my life was like Meg's. This is a fantastic book (and series) that kept me laughing the entire time. Murder with Peacocks is the beginning to a fantasic series of mystery, crazy family, and overall insanity. A must read for any mystery enthusiast!
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Kathleen Mann More than 1 year ago
Loved the irony!
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Moshie More than 1 year ago
Nice and light mystery in the same line as the Nancy Drew series. Nice for a rainy afternoon read.
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